Miner lodges disability discrimination suit

A WEST Virginia man is suing his former employer, Coal River Mining, alleging discrimination.

Donna Schmidt

According to state legal journal the West Virginia Record, Elijah Williamson has filed a complaint in Kanawha County Court in Charleston against Coal River Mining, where he worked in 2010-12.

Though he did not elaborate on the details, Williamson alleged in the claim that he was injured in an accident on September 23, 2011. He was off work due to his injury through this past January 16.

Williamson alleged that upon returning to work the following day, he was given a new position at the mine with fewer hours. Also, after undergoing a drug test and a safety refresher, he was allegedly told he was “no longer wanted as an employee”

Williamson has argued, according to the Record, that Coal River’s actions were malicious, intentional and in reckless disregard for his protected rights, and that his collection of West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act benefits played a significant role in the operator’s actions against him.

The former miner also alleged that the defendant’s actions created a difficult and intolerable workplace atmosphere that would compel any reasonable person to resign, but in in doing so he was constructively discharged.

The plaintiff, who is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as reinstatement, alleges Coal River Mining violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act by discriminating due to his disability and also in retaliation for him receiving benefits.

Williamson is being represented by Stephen New, Robert Campbell and Matthew Nelson, the Record said, and his case has been assigned to circuit judge Carrie Webster.

The case is Kanawha Circuit Court Number 12-C-2315.

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